A new diet proved to be highly effective at managing bloating, constipation and diarrhea problems has been developed by a dietitian from Melbourne.
The low-FODMAP diet was formulated by Dr Sue Shepherd and includes elements of other established diets aimed at dealing with digestive issues such as lactose intolerance, the Age reported.
The diet limits foods that are high in short-chain carbohydrates and sugar alcohols, such as lactose, fructans and fructose.
The diet helps up to three out of four sufferers to some extent and, unlike those with celiac disease, patients don't need to cut out the offending foods completely.
"A few FODMAPs are OK," the publication quoted Shepherd as saying.
"It's not like the gluten-free diet, which is about cutting out gluten completely.
"It's about cutting back FODMAPs until you have the level of symptoms you want," he said.
The exact cause of this sort of intolerance is unknown, but the symptoms often develop after a gut infection and may be worsened by stress, says Monash University's Professor Peter Gibson, one of the FODMAP researchers.
Key questions that remain to be answered include whether avoiding certain types of sugars, particularly those that encourage the development of good gut bacteria, can cause other types of digestive problems and why a minority of patients do not respond to the diet.
"We haven't actually got a handle on that at the moment," Gibson said.
"It's not been that easy to define who [the diet] will work for and who it won't," he added.